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San Francisco, California, USA — Overview for travelers

Cable Car San Francisco
Cable Car San Francisco
Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco
Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco
Levi Strauss, S.F.
Levi Strauss, S.F.
Pier 39 at Fisherman's Wharf, San Francisco
Pier 39 at Fisherman’s Wharf, San Francisco
Alcatraz, San Francisco
Alcatraz, San Francisco
Lombard Street, San Francisco
Lombard Street, San Francisco

San Francisco offers two built-in advantages. It’s one of the most scenic cities in the world, and one of the most compact.
The city is situated on a 46.6 square-mile peninsula bounded on the west by the Pacific Ocean, on the north by the Golden Gate strait and from north to east by San Francisco Bay. The last provides it with one of the world’s finest land-locked harbors.

The Bay is spanned by two landmarks, the Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, and graced by four islands: Alcatraz, Angel, Yerba Buena and Treasure.

The city is built on a series of hills – more than 40! Consequently, almost every other street points the way to a panoramic view of the Bay. The principal hills, which early earned it the Roman sobriquet of ‘City of Seven Hills‘, are Nob Hill, Russian Hill, Telegraph Hill, Twin Peaks Hill, Mount Davidson Hill, Rincon Hill and Lone Mountain Hill.

Its principal attractions are the century-old cable cars, America’s only mobile National Historic Landmark, Fisherman’s Wharf with its bay view restaurants and resident sea lions, Alcatraz, once the site of the U.S.’ toughest maximum security prison, now a National Park, Chinatown, the largest Asian enclave outside of Asia., Golden Gate Park with its Japanese Tea Garden, Steinhart Aquarium, Morrison Planetarium, outstanding museums and 1,000 wooded acres, Mission Dolores, founded by the Spanish padres in 1776, the pagoda-crowned Japan Center, the Victorian shopping sector known as Cow Hollow on outer Union Street, Ocean Beach and Seal Rocks. Union Square, home of major-league shopping, North Beach, the Little Italy of the west.

The modern San Franciscan’s appetite for cultural phenomena outside the American has fostered a demand for geographically disorienting experiences – from heart stopping Spanish flamenco dance to moody French noir films; ancient Mesopotamian cuisine to utterly proper English high tea.
The city’s innate cosmopolitanism is evident everywhere in its culinary arts, its neighborhoods and street names, its cultural fabric, and especially in the ethnic pageantry which highlights its annual events schedule.

San Francisco’s visitors have access to a wide range of sightseeing services, including bus tours and surrounding attractions, boat tours, museum tours, night club tours, personalized tours, self-guided tours, walking tours and fishing excursions.

Map

Sightseeing & Attractions

Find our list with the top sightseeing places & attractions including grouping of sightseeing activities in weekend-long itineraries in our article: San Francisco — sightseeing & attractions

49-Mile Scenic Drive

The famous 49-Mile Scenic Drive through San Francisco is dotted with 49 renowned places, such as Chinatown, the Cable Car Barn, Aquatic Park, Fisherman’s Wharf and the Maritime Museum. See also: San Francisco — sightseeing & attractions
For a break from the road, savor a picnic lunch at Marina Green and watch the weekend yacht races, windsurfers and sailboaters.
When summer comes around, Sigmund Stern Grove is the place to go for free concerts and performances of such classics as opera and Shakespeare.
More information: Maps outlining the drive are available at the SF Visitor Information Centers (see list at the end of this page) or here online on Google Maps: 49 Mile Scenic Drive – Google My Maps

Weather, Climate, Temperatures

San Francisco is celebrated for its vitality and refreshing individualism. Its climate is no exception. Temperatures rarely rise above 75 degrees Fahrenheit or drop below 45. Great, cleansing drafts from the Pacific wash The City in all seasons, giving it an aura of perpetual spring.
When much of the rest of the nation is sweltering in summer heat, San Francisco’s natural air conditioning, the morning and evening fog, make The City a welcome respite.

Average temperatures in in Celsius (Fahrenheit): San Francisco

MonthMaxMin
Jan13,3 (56)7,7 (46)
Feb15 (59)8,9 (48)
Mrch15,5 (60)8,9 (48)
Apr16,1 (61)10 (50)
May16,7 (62)10 (50)
Jun17,8 (64)11,1 (52)
Jul17,8 (64)11,7 (53)
Aug18,3 (65)12,2 (54)
Sep20 (68)13,3 (56)
Oct20(68)12,8 (55)
Nov17,2 (63)11,1 (52)
Dec13,9 (57)8,3 (47)

Visitor Information & Getting Around

Land Area

121 qkm (46.69 square miles)

Population

ca. 875.ooo (Census 2020)
ca. 805.ooo (Census 2010)
776.733(Census 2000; every 10 years)

Airport

San Francisco International Airport: FlySFO | San Francisco International Airport

Public Transportation

Public transit is highly recommended when visiting San Francisco. For bus schedules and information on San Francisco’s cable cars, historic streetcars and light rail system visit the official Website of SFMTA: San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA, transit, streets, taxi) | SFMTA

Elevation

0 to 19 m (0-63 ft) above sea level

Neighborhoods of San Francisco

The S.F. Public Transportation website offers a nice map and textual overview of the S.F. neighborhoods: Neighborhoods | SFMTA

Getting-around in S.F.

The S.F. Public Transportation website is of great help again when it comes to information about anything from riding public transportation, cable cars, parking in S.F, bicycling, and more: Visitors | SFMTA

Visitor Center

900 Market Street, San Francisco, CA 94103-2804

749 Howard Street (Inside Moscone Center)
170 O’Farrell St; Macy’s Union Square, Cellar Level
Fisherman’s Wharf, Pier 39, Building B, Level 2: the California Welcome Center
Chinatown Visitor Information Center (625 Kearny St.)

Web: San Francisco… Safely | Visitor Information (sftravel.com)

History

‎In 1776, the Franciscans founded the Spanish Mission San Francisco de Asis on the peninsula (now Dolores Mission) and gave its later name to the city, which was not officially founded until 1835 (initially under the name Yerba Bueno).

In 1846, the United States took over Yerba Bueno from Mexico and gave it its current name in 1848. Until 1848, the city had less than 100 inhabitants, but when gold was discovered in the American River near Sacramento in the same year, this changed abruptly. The city experienced an economic boom and was registered as a city in 1850. The population quickly grew to over 10,000. ‎

‎By 1900, the city already had 340,000 inhabitants. ‎
‎The earthquake in April 1906 destroyed almost the entire center of the city, as well as a large part of the residential areas. The fires raged for 3 days. The city was quickly rebuilt but it was hit by another earthquake in 1989.‎

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